Important changes to the law on whistleblowing take effect on 25 June 2013. We set out some easy steps for employers to follow when updating their whistleblowing policy.
1. Ensure that your whistleblowing policy covers protected disclosures made “in the public interest”
From 25 June 2013, a “qualifying disclosure” means any disclosure of information that, in the reasonable belief of the worker, is made in the public interest. Employers should amend the section of their whistleblowing policy that explains what constitutes a protected disclosure.
2. Remove the requirement in your whistleblowing policy that disclosures must be made “in good faith”
The requirement that a whistleblower make a qualifying disclosure “in good faith” is removed, from 25 June 2013. Employers should amend this section of their whistleblowing policy.
- XpertHR’s model policy on whistleblowing explains the continuing relevance of “good faith” in employment tribunals
3. Clarify that complaints about breaches of employees’ own contracts of employment should be raised as a grievance
From 25 June 2013, a consequence of the new “public interest” requirement is that employees will generally be precluded from being able to “blow the whistle” about breaches of their own employment contract. Employers should ensure that this is explained in the policy, but also make it clear that an employee making such a complaint can still use the employer’s grievance procedure.
- XpertHR’s model policy on whistleblowing explains the difference between making a protected disclosure and raising a grievance
4. Make sure now that other employees do not mistreat whistleblowers
Whistleblowers will be protected from suffering a detriment, bullying or harassment from another employee, from 25 June 2013. Before that date, employees who make protected disclosures are protected from adverse treatment only in relation to their employer’s activity. Employers should update their whistleblowing policy to make it clear that colleagues should not mistreat a whistleblower.